Computer Engineering vs. Electrical Engineering

What's the Difference?

Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering are closely related fields that both involve the study and application of electrical systems. However, Computer Engineering focuses more on the design and development of computer hardware and software systems, while Electrical Engineering deals with the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical power. Computer Engineers often work on designing and building computer components such as processors, memory systems, and networking devices, while Electrical Engineers may work on projects related to power generation, renewable energy, and telecommunications. Both fields require a strong foundation in mathematics, physics, and problem-solving skills, but Computer Engineering tends to be more focused on digital systems and programming, while Electrical Engineering has a broader scope that includes power systems, electronics, and telecommunications.


AttributeComputer EngineeringElectrical Engineering
FocusHardware and software integrationElectricity and electronics
Job OpportunitiesSoftware development, computer systems design, IT consultingPower systems engineering, telecommunications, electronics design
SkillsProgramming, computer architecture, networkingCircuit analysis, signal processing, power systems
EducationBachelor's degree in Computer EngineeringBachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering
Industry DemandHigh demand for computer engineers in tech industrySteady demand for electrical engineers in various industries

Further Detail


Computer engineering and electrical engineering are two closely related fields that have many similarities but also some key differences. Both disciplines involve the study of electrical systems and electronics, but they focus on different aspects of these systems. Understanding the distinctions between computer engineering and electrical engineering can help individuals decide which field is the best fit for their interests and career goals.


One of the main differences between computer engineering and electrical engineering lies in the focus of their educational programs. Computer engineering programs typically place a greater emphasis on computer science and software development, while electrical engineering programs focus more on the design and analysis of electrical systems. Computer engineering students may take courses in programming languages, algorithms, and software engineering, while electrical engineering students may study circuit theory, electromagnetics, and power systems.

Job Opportunities

Both computer engineering and electrical engineering offer a wide range of job opportunities in various industries. Computer engineers often work in the technology sector, developing software, designing computer hardware, and working on systems integration. Electrical engineers, on the other hand, may find employment in industries such as telecommunications, power generation, and electronics manufacturing. While there is some overlap in the job responsibilities of computer engineers and electrical engineers, each field offers unique opportunities for specialization and career growth.

Skills Required

Computer engineering and electrical engineering require different sets of skills. Computer engineers need strong programming skills, problem-solving abilities, and a deep understanding of computer architecture. They must also be proficient in software development tools and technologies. Electrical engineers, on the other hand, need a solid foundation in mathematics, physics, and circuit analysis. They must be able to design and analyze complex electrical systems, troubleshoot technical issues, and work with a variety of electronic components.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer hardware engineers was $117,220 in May 2020, while the median annual wage for electrical engineers was $100,830. Both fields are expected to see steady job growth in the coming years, with demand for computer engineers driven by the increasing use of computer systems in various industries and demand for electrical engineers driven by the need for new technologies in areas such as renewable energy and telecommunications.


Both computer engineering and electrical engineering offer opportunities for specialization in specific areas of interest. Computer engineering specializations may include software engineering, computer networking, embedded systems, and artificial intelligence. Electrical engineering specializations may include power systems engineering, control systems engineering, telecommunications, and electronics design. By choosing a specialization, individuals can focus their studies and develop expertise in a particular area of their field.


While computer engineering and electrical engineering share many similarities, they are distinct fields with unique focuses and career paths. Individuals interested in working with computers and software may find that computer engineering is the best fit for them, while those interested in designing and analyzing electrical systems may prefer electrical engineering. Both fields offer rewarding career opportunities and the chance to make a significant impact on the world through technological innovation.

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